Travel industry enters ‚Äúnew era” as reform takes effect

Travel industry enters ‚Äúnew era” as reform takes effect
By admin

The protracted deregulation process has culminated in today’s official implementation of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents Travel Accreditation Scheme (ATAS) with AFTA confident the reform will enhance and protect the professionalism of the industry.

The start of the new scheme marks the end of the Travel Agents Act in most states and the associated Travel Compensation Fund, with the industry instead leading the accreditation process.

The new scheme already reflects the industry majority in terms of turnover, AFTA chief executive  Jayson Westbury said. He identified Helloworld, Magellan, MTA, CTM, TravelPartners, Travel Counsellors, Travellers Choice and the Travel Corporation as already accredited.

“Key industry bodies including CATO have also thrown their weight behind it,” he said.

“Our industry can now operate within a flexible, equitable framework which accommodates the significant diversity of the Australian travel industry, applies the rigor of Australian Consumer Law, accommodates the evolution of the way consumers buy travel, and which more fairly spreads responsibility across the entire industry rather than just travel agents.”

ATAS has been designed to mirror equivalents in other professions, to ensure that consumers can reply on the service of a travel agent in the same way they rely on that of a doctor or a lawyer through its inclusion of mandatory indemnity insurance, Westbury explained.

“This new structure brings the oversight of the travel sector in line with other professions across the country,” he said.

“This can only be a good thing for our industry and consumers alike. Simple fact – the future just arrived.”

Although the scheme continues to draw criticism, most notably from TravelManagers boss Barry Mayo, for its failure to incorporate mandatory insolvency insurance, Westbury highlighted the US as a successful  example of a similar approach.

“The USA de-regulated approach where consumer protection is provided via federal laws is not very different to our consumer law framework and the reputation of the 14,000-plus travel agents is outstanding,” he said. “

"A key focus of AFTA and government is to showcase those benefits to consumers.

“This never happened under the previous regime.”

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